The increasing clout of China in the economic and political sectors of the world in general and South Asia in particular has also become an increasing worry over its implications, whether in the present or in the future. While attention to this issue has been growing in the United States and the advanced industrial democracies of Japan and Western Europe, India too cannot afford to ignore it or remain complacent. This became particularly evident when General Bipin Rawat, Chief of Defence Staff of India, flagged a number of issues on it in Guwahati on Saturday. General Rawat — also the first Chief of Defence Staff of the country — was delivering a key-note address in a memorial lecture organised by the Assam Police. According to General Rawat, China's ambitions for power at the global level has posed an 'omnipresent danger' to the overall stability of South Asia. China's ambition to emerge as a global power, he said, has been making inroads into South East Asia and the Indian Ocean Region, which should be viewed seriously not just by India, but the global community as a whole. General Rawat has also rightly pointed out that China's dealings with India's immediate neighbours on the east and west – Myanmar and Pakistan, and its foray into Bangladesh are definitely not in the interest of India's interests. It is a fact that Myanmar and Pakistan are the largest recipients of military hardware produced and exported from China. Additionally, both Myanmar and Pakistan also receive support in various global fora from China, General Rawat stated, clearly indicating that these are issues which need to be discussed more often in the country. That China has a strong anti-India stand has also been evident from that country's continuous support for Pakistan by way of providing military equipment to facilitate violence in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. While the Chief of Defence Staff also dwelt at length the immediate and long-term implications in India's neighbourhood of China's insatiable urge for increasing its clout, he however hoped that the international community would definitely not sit tight in the event of China indulging in any arm-twisting tactic against India. Though the top Army boss did not say, it is however a fact that China cannot afford to engage India in a full-scale war. But, the fact remains that whether India likes it or not, China is fond of and will definitely continue to cause situations leading to skirmishes along the LAC, whether in Kashmir or in Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh. In fact, there have been several such instances in the past couple of decades, in view of which India has already stepped up manifold her defence preparedness along the LAC.
Leaving aside traditional warfare, China is also capable of causing harm to India by manipulating the mighty Brahmaputra, either by way of choking it, or by way of releasing excess water and causing havoc in India, which is a lower riparian country. But then, such mischief on the part of China would not only affect India, but also Bangladesh, a country where China has made some significant investments in recent years. In such a situation too, the international community will definitely not remain a silent spectator, and China is definitely well aware of this. Coming back to General Rawat's speech, it is important to note that the Chief of Defence Staff has seen immense potential for India in the overall race among the Asian countries to become economic superpowers of the world. Naming China as one of the five countries projected to be Asia's representatives in being an economic superpower, General Rawat is probably correct when he said that China, India, Japan, Turkey and Indonesia will be the top 10 economies of the world by 2030. It is in this backdrop that India sees huge geo-political competition in the region from China in creating a favourable strategic posture to provide sufficient security to its overseas interests. It is for the political leadership of the country to comprehend this and prepare the right roadmap for India. What is most important is that these and other issues relating to China must be increasingly discussed in the North-eastern states, so that the people of the region, from politicians to policy-makers to academia and students, remain abreast of the critical developments taking place in the neighbourhood courtesy China.